Know your medicine

KNOW YOUR MEDICINES 

  1. What is medicine?

    Medicines are chemical substances that are used for treatment, prevention and diagnosing diseases. There are medicines that you can buy "over-the-counter" at the pharmacy or supermarkets as well as those you get from your doctor. If used properly medicine will help you to overcome or control your medical problem. Repeated studies have shown that as many as 50% of patients do not take their medicine properly.

    It is important to know what your medicine is called and what it looks like. Some medicine may look the same although they have different names and uses. Medicine can be prescribed by its brand name or chemical name. If you are doubtful, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

  2. Before using your medicine.

  1. Giving information.

    Everyone is different and the pharmacist will need to know some facts about you before he/she can give the right advice. Therefore, before you obtain any medicine, tell your doctor or pharmacist the following information:

  • What are the symptoms that you have and how long they have occurred.

  • If you have seen any health care provider

  • All the medicines and dietary supplements you are taking or have taken recently, including prescription and non-prescription medicine.

  • Any allergies and sensitivities to medicine, food or other substances.

  • Your smoking, drinking and exercise habits.

  • Any special diet you are on: low sugar, low-salt or a diet to lose or gain weight

  • If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or if you are breast feeding

  • Family history of illness(es).

  1. Read the label.

    The label on your medicine envelope or bottle contains important information. Your label may look different but it will show:

  1. Your name

  2. The name of the medicine and its strength

  3. Instructions on how to take your medicine

example:

  • the amount and frequency to be taken

  • before, with or after food

  • other special precautions for example, do not take any alcohol with this medicine.

As a general rule, take your medicine immediately after food. This helps you to remember when to take your medicine and to avoid getting an upset stomach. Some medicine, e.g. PENICILLIN need to be taken on an empty stomach as food interferes with their absorption. If in doubt, ask your pharmacist.

The instruction on the label are not just a rough guide but must be followed carefully. For example:

  1. TAKE BEFORE MEALS

    This means about one hour before a meal and NOT two minutes before. Some medicines need to be absorbed into your system quickly so that they can act at full strength. Some of the effects of the medicine could be lost or delayed with presence of food. If you forget to take it at this time, it is probably better to take it 2 hours after meal than rather not at all.

  2. TAKE AFTER MEALS

    Some medicine can upset or irritate your stomach. To minimize this, the label may tell you to take your medicines within five to ten minutes after meals.

  3. TAKE WITH WATER

    Instructions to take with water means a full glass of water. This will prevent tablets or capsules sticking into your throat. Do not substitute with other fluids without checking with your pharmacist or doctor.

  4. TO BE SWALLOWED WHOLE, NOT CHEWED

    Some tablets or capsules have special coating that stay in place as they travel through your stomach. The coating then dissolves in the intestine to release the medicine where it can best be absorbed without irritating your stomach. Other types of coating allow medicines to be released gradually throughout the day. Chewing would destroy these features.

  5. TAKE WITH OR AFTER FOOD

    Some medicine can irritate the stomach lining. To protect the stomach these medicine should be taken with or after food.

  6. TAKE AT REGULAR INTERVALS, COMPLETE THE COURSE

    When you are taking antibiotics for an infection , you often feel better after just a day or two. However, the germs could still be there, ready to multiply if you stop the medicine. By taking regular doses and finishing the course, you maintain the antibiotic levels in your system to make sure none of the germs get away. Otherwise the germs could become resistant to the medicine and make you ill again.

  7. MAY CAUSE DROWSINESS. IF AFFECTED DO NOT DRIVE OR OPERATE MACHINERY

    Some medicine can make you feel too tired to drive or use machines safely.Check with the pharmacist if you are not sure whether the medicine you are taking can cause this problem.

  8. NEVER TAKE YOUR MEDICINE IN THE DARK EVEN IF YOU BELIEVE YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHERE TO FIND THEM